It takes a team to win a cross country title, and Bear River certainly had the best five runners Wednesday.
The Bears were able to repeat as Region 11 champions by a slim margin over Green Canyon, 57 to 60. The 5K race was held at the Steve & Donna Reeder Course on the campus of Utah State.
“The boys just pulled together,” BR head coach Dan Line said. “They did not run for individual places today. I told them they had to run as a team or they would lose, but left it up to them. They said they wanted to win the team title. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a region championship with just one kid medaling.”
The top 10 individuals medal. The Bears did have just Ammon Hunter get individual recognition, as he finished fourth in 16 minutes, 33.6 seconds. However, Hunter had teammates in 11th, 13th, 14th and 15th.
“We’ve really held the boys to task all year about training right and caring for each other and doing the right things,” Line said. “We told them last year after state that Green Canyon would be right there this year. They (Wolves) ran great today.”
The Wolves were right there. Jackson Monz finished fifth in 16:35.2 to lead the Green Canyon pack. Dylan Chambers was seventh in 16:49.3, and Clark Campbell was 10th in 16:58.9.
Rounding out the boys field were Sky View (71), Ridgeline (84), Logan (97) and Mountain Crest (141). Every school had a boy finish in the top 10.
“This is the most balance I’ve seen in our region in a long time,” Line said. “... Look at the medalists. There were a lot of good kids this year. It was fun. It feels like the whole region won today because everyone was so close.”
Individually, it turned into a one-man race. Sky View’s Isaiah Crookston took control just over a mile into the race and was never really threatened. The junior ran an impressive time of 15:59.5.
“I planned to do a surge at the mile mark to split the group up, and thankfully it worked and I was able to keep a pace through the whole race,” Crookston said. “They didn’t catch up, so that was really helpful. ... I was feeling it before the downhill. It hurt so bad. I just pushed through. ... I really wanted to go under 16, and I got it.”
Ridgeline’s Tate Hickman took the early lead. The sophomore was able to get away from the main pack with Crookston and Mountain Crest’s Hyrum Staffanson.
“I tried to race the best that I could,” Hickman said. “... The first mile was 5:06, which was faster than usual. I just tried to keep the pace up.”
Once Crookston made his move, no one had an answer.
“I just tried my best to stay in it mentally, keep the pace and keep going,” Crookston said.
Hickman edged a fast-closing Bobcat for second, crossing in 16:27.4. Sky View’s Jaime Tellez-Quiroz took third in 16:28.5. Staffanson dropped back to sixth in 16:39.1.
“My goal was to be in the top three and I got top two so I’m happy,” Hickman said. “... Isaiah is way fast. No one was catching him. He trained hard and I’m proud of him.”
The only drama left was who would win the team title. The Bears were able to move up and edge the Wolves.
Now the teams will turn their attention to the 4A state meet next week at the Regional Athletic Complex in Salt Lake City.
“I want to get top 10 at state,” Crookston said. “I need to find somebody and stick with them and try and keep a good pace through the whole thing.”
“Our team is going to go and have fun at state,” Hickman said.
Bear River also won the junior varsity region title with 22 points to runner-up Ridgeline’s 45. The top four finishers were Bears, led by Ryan Pace in 17:31.0.